Deactivation of Left Ventricular Assist Devices: Differing Perspectives of Cardiology and Hospice/Palliative Medicine Clinicians

Academic Article


  • Background Beliefs around deactivation of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) vary substantially among clinicians, institutions, and patients. Therefore, we sought to understand perspectives regarding LVAD deactivation among cardiology and hospice/palliative medicine (HPM) clinicians. Methods and Results We administered a 41-item survey via electronic mail to members of 3 cardiology and 1 HPM professional societies. A convergent parallel mixed-methods design was used. From October through November 2011, 7168 individuals were sent the survey and 440 responded. Three domains emerged: (1) LVAD as a life-sustaining therapy; (2) complexities of the process of LVAD deactivation; and (3) legal and ethical considerations of LVAD deactivation. Most respondents (cardiology 92%; HPM 81%; P =.15) believed that an LVAD is a life-sustaining treatment for patients with advanced heart failure; however, 60% of cardiology vs 2% of HPM clinicians believed a patient should be imminently dying to deactivate an LVAD (P <.001). Additionally, 87% of cardiology vs 100% of HPM clinicians believed the cause of death following LVAD deactivation was from underlying disease (P <.001), with 13% of cardiology clinicians considering it to be a form of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. Conclusion Cardiology and HPM clinicians have differing perspectives regarding LVAD deactivation. Bridging the gaps and engaging in dialog between these 2 specialties is a critical first step in creating a more cohesive approach to care for LVAD patients.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • McIlvennan CK; Wordingham SE; Allen LA; Matlock DD; Jones J; Dunlay SM; Swetz KM
  • Start Page

  • 708
  • End Page

  • 712
  • Volume

  • 23
  • Issue

  • 9